Duncan MacLeod leafed through the huge basket of mail he'd just
picked up at the post office following his six-month absence from
Paris. Junk, junk, bank statement, junk, junk ... oh, a postcard
from the Valicourts. Duncan smiled as he read it, then turned back
to the stack of mail. He paused to open a letter from the Paris
Ballet; it contained a donation contract for the Tessa Noel sketch
he'd agreed to donate for the silent auction at their annual Gala
fund-raiser. A pair of tickets for that evening's performance of
"The Nutcracker" was also included. Nice touch. Duncan tried to
remember the last time he'd seen that particular ballet, but his
thoughts were interrupted by the thump of the day's new mail being
tossed onto the deck of the barge. More mail; just what he needed!
He pulled on a pair of boots and headed up to retrieve it.
The Paris Ballet had sent him a second set of complimentary tickets
to "The Nutcracker", this time in a small hand-addressed envelope.
He was surprised at the duplication--after all, tickets to the
popular show were hard to come by--but shrugged and considered to
whom he might give the extra set. In the same moment it occurred to
him that he had no one in mind to take with him to the show, and an
intense wave of loneliness swept through him. Tessa's memory always
haunted his first few days returning to Paris, and the effect was
strengthened by the fact that he'd recently gone through her works in
storage to find one to give for the auction. Duncan pictured the
sketch he'd selected. It was a stylized male ballet dancer
performing a series of leaps. Tessa had been fascinated with the
grace and controlled power of her subject, and had captured it in the
Duncan suddenly remembered a conversation he'd once had with Anne
Lindsey. In a rare moment of introspection, Anne had revealed her
adolescent longing to dance in the ballet. She had always excelled
academically, but felt clumsy and unattractive and secretly wished
for the grace and effortless beauty of the dancers she admired.
Duncan had suggested that she take some lessons now but she'd just
laughed and asked where she'd find the time for another commitment.
Duncan had seen Anne a few times over the last several months, but
since Mary's kidnapping a certain tension seemed to underlie their
meetings. Even Methos had chided him and suggested he take Anne
somewhere nice in an effort to make amends. Duncan smiled as the
obvious connection occurred to him. He reached for the phone.